From Darien the stray horse to Elmo the emu, this Quakertown rescue group helps them all

·4 min read

Stray horses in the busy streets of Philadelphia aren't a sight that one would usually see. For Last Chance Ranch, it's all in a day's work.

In a recent scenario, a stray, underweight horse was found wandering the streets in the Hunting Park section of the city. Being spotted on the 4000 block of North Darien Street, he now goes by “Darien," as he finds himself getting back into healthy shape at the animal welfare organization in Richland Township.

Last Chance Ranch Executive Director Jackie Burke said Darien came to the group from ACCT Philadelphia, after he was picked up on Memorial Day and the group was looking for a rescue partner to care for him.

“We have gotten stray horses in the past, mainly from the Pennsylvania SPCA, because there are occasions where horses and other farm animals get abandoned within the city limits because they are expensive animals and there's not a lot of regulations," Burke said.

Jackie Burke, executive director of Last Chance Ranch in Richland Township, with Darien, a stray horse found on the streets of Philadelphia.
Jackie Burke, executive director of Last Chance Ranch in Richland Township, with Darien, a stray horse found on the streets of Philadelphia.

According to 6ABC, the horse was discovered wandering around with a wounded back and feet as well as damaged teeth, after the man who bought him supposedly abandoned him a few hours later.

Viral social media posts has made Darien a famous name, especially in the animal care community, and progress has been seen in the past few weeks as he has found a home at the ranch and is getting back to a normal weight.

Typically horses with an unknown age "get aged by their teeth, and as I'm looking at him my rough estimate is that he's in his later teens, in the 15-20 range," Burke said. "His teeth haven't officially been floated yet by the equine dentist which won't happen until he's out of his 30-day quarantine, and there's different angles and grooves of the teeth that a well-trained equine professional can examine to make an age estimate."

It's a norm that animals must step into a quarantine after being brought to the ranch, as well as have their current health examined in order to strategize the best game plan for them.

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Last Chance Ranch has plenty of experience caring for horses like Darien, as well as a host of dogs, cats and more.

"We started in 1999 as a horse rescue and a nonprofit, and then we started working with all different kinds of animals in the mid-2000s such as dogs, cats, and other farm animals in the Greater Philadelphia area that our facility helps and houses," Burke said, highlighting how working with horses are the foundation of how the rescue has grown.

Even with the typical, domesticated farm animals that many people would expect to see when they think of a ranch, Last Chance has dealt with more wild animals that have come their way.

"Now our facility encompasses all animals, we are a no-kill, non-profit animal rescue," Burke said. "Currently on our property we have Elmo the emu who was also a stray in Philadelphia, and we even temporarily housed a caiman alligator before."

Over the past 23 years, Last Chance Ranch has grown into something more than just an animal rescue. Aside from the rehabilitation efforts that they offer for lost animals who find themselves in Darien's shoes, the ranch offers much more to reach out to the community.

"We have a bunch of different programs such as horseback riding lessons, summer camp, and birthday parties that are all great for all age levels," Burke said. "We also do tours of our facility, visits to camp groups and schools to educate them about our work, and an adoption program that people can come out to find a pet that's a good match for them."

As recreationally oriented as these programs may seem, the motives of these activities are also to educate the public in all the right ways on how to care for the animals that the ranch holds.

For more information on what Last Chance Ranch offers and on even becoming a volunteer, visit lastchanceranch.org.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Stray Philadelphia horse finds refuge at Quakertown's Last Chance Ranch